POOL PROJECT: August 26, East Harlem

by elizabeth | August 27th, 2010

In the shadow of the Wagner Houses, named for 1954-1965 Mayor of New York Robert Wagner, this small pool is an oasis. Quite literally! There is a beautiful mural (claimed to be the largest in NYC), painted by Michael Schorr, which wraps around both the inside and outside walls and fences of the pool area. Diving down for an underwater lap, the light sparkled on the bottom of the pool. I arose to find this serene sea-shore (sea-Schorr, ha ha) landscape surrounding me, right down to dune grass.

The locker room here was hard to leave…. ah, a real bench with a back, and Michael Jackson blasting on the boom box!

But it was time to re-visit one of my favorite pools from my 2004 trek, the Marcus Garvey pool. The pool is set into the hill above the main section of the park, high above the throngs (throngs!) of older men playing dominos. This hill, originally called “Snake Hill” by the Dutch, served in the Revolutionary War, and as a fire watchtower location in the 1800s. The park opened in 1840 as Mount Morris Park, and was renamed for groundshaker Marcus Garvey in 1973.

As you can see, it’s a gorgeous spot, and features concrete bleachers for reading books from the New York Public Library just across the street. I could have stayed there all day!

STATUS: 23 pools down, 14 to go

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elizabeth! is a vocalist, trombonist, and songwriter working in NYC and Los Angeles. Originally from Vermont, she studied neuroscience at Harvard before moving to NYC to play, tour, and record with jazz musicians, indie rockers, pop stars and more. Her new album of original jazzy pop tunes was just released on Canopy Jazz!

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